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  1. There are more and more Chinese language Youtube channels popping up, covering a wide variety of interests and hobbies, and they make for a great learning resource. Here are a few of mine. Feel free to add your own. General life in China Channels: One of my new favourites is 小叔TV . His content consists of walking around various localities in China, with a focus on the more forgotten, left behind type places. While it doesn't sound too exciting, I really like to watch now that I'm not living in China anymore. He offers some interesting insights into Chinese society and economy, and it's interesting to see these normally unseen locales. You really get to see what everyday life is like for many (maybe most) Chinese people. I discovered 当下频道DxChannel while researching an essay about 地摊经济 (the idea of jump starting the post lockdown economy by allowing people to set up little market stalls in the streets). In their video they tried to set up their own little stall in Shanghai to see how much they could make in a day. Most of their recent content is about young people trying to set up businesses, so I think it's quite an interesting insight into entrepreneurs trying to make it in China. IC实验室 is a channel about marketing, the economy and society in general. They have some great videos about Chinese internet culture and how that relates to marketing. The first video of theirs I watched was this great one about 奋斗逼 (people who work themselves into the ground, with no benefit to themselves or their colleagues). Their video about 添狗 was an interesting insight into dating in China. Gaming Channels: I got into gaming (particularly retro gaming) channels a few years back, and decided to find some Chinese channels about the topic to turn it into a learning opportunity. Gamker is a good one, creating professional long-form reviews of the latest games (they just released their Cyberpunk one), and 小宁子 is always a relaxing watch, with more chilled game reviews. 老孙聊游戏 is probably my favourite though. Although ostensibly a retro gaming channel, he actually ends up covering the changes in Chinese society from the 80s to early 00s, as he talks about how he met his wife, how he set up a gaming shop, the development of his city etc. TV/Movie Reviews and Retrospectives: I have been able to watch and understand TV shows and films with no problem for a couple of years now, but always struggled to explain the plot or content of what I had watched to my teacher. I mean, I could do it in a simple way, but just not as articulate as I would have liked, so I started watching these kind of channels to fix that. These two mostly just take the mickey out of really bad Chinese dramas, but also feature the odd really good show now and again (I've discovered some really good TV shows as a result): 哇哇哇妹 (I like their end of year "worst of" awards) 开心嘴炮 These movie channels only really review ones that they like, and it's a good way of finding good potential movies, both modern and classic: 看电影了没 大聪看电影 越哥说电影 News: For official Chinese government news I quite like新闻1+1 and 今日关注 (they normally focus on a single topic). When I need a break from the official party line, I check out these North American based news channels: stone记 公子沈 (a little bit too anti-CCP in an axe-grindy kind of way, but a good balance to official news channels) Misc: I used this channel to learn Chinese cooking while in lockdown in China: Chef Wang 美食作家王刚 李永乐老师 is fun education/lecture channel about economics. maths and science. He manages to get hundreds of thousands of views, despite the super low production values (basically just him in front of a blackboard), which is a testament to the quality of the teaching: 李永乐老师 True life crime channel: X调查 Mr and Mrs Gao is a good one for Chinese learners, as the uploads generally consist of a husband explaining various topics and weird stories from around the world to his wife. They range from black hole theory to the lives of famous people, so you get a wide range of vocab. They consistently get millions of views an upload, so are one of the most popular Chinese channels on youtube: Mr and Mrs Gao Profiles of famous Chinese people: Your Studio 有耳工作室 Everyday economics (ok, if you can get over the weird disguise the presenter always wears 😂 ) 人人都该懂的经济学 逻辑思维 stopped uploading their philosophy/history podcast around three years back, but their library of 200 uploads is worth watching, if you're into that sort of thing: 逻辑思维 Good channel about computer programming (by a Chinese coder living in the US): SchelleyYuki This is the channel of the Beijing MMA fighter who likes to expose fake martial artists by challenging them to real fights (expect lots of profanity and beef): 徐晓冬北京格斗狂人 This is a channel that does a good job of explaining current affair topics, accompanied by some nice illustrations. Good for Chinese learners given the breadth and relevance of the subjects covered: 点点动画 Finally, I probably should include Papi酱. She's one of the biggest 网红 in China (or at least she was), and although she seems to have moved on to 抖音 now (hence the 60 sec videos), her older videos are still worth watching for their satire of modern Chinese life: Papi酱
    20 points
  2. I started studying Chinese as a hobby 4 years ago when I turned 30. As someone who lives in the US, is married and has a full time job completely unrelated to languages, I had always mentally toyed around with the idea of taking a "sabbatical" for a year and studying in China for a few months...although never in a serious way. Last December, I randomly decided to see if I could take advantage of the fact that covid was making a lot of Universities and programs rethink about having remote offerings, and found Tsinghua University's IUP program. I attended class from January through the end of May, and figured I'd write up a short review in case others might be interested. A few up-front things: This program seems targeted at grad students, particularly PhD students. I was potentially the oldest student (by a decent number of years). The program is neither targeted at nor suitable for beginners - it's really aiming at intermediate and above. To get information on the program, I had a WeChat call with someone entirely in Chinese. English resources are more limited. My background was pretty unusual/unique compared to the other students. I have entirely self studied as a hobby, never taken the HSK, and haven't taken any formal courses before. However, I have a PhD in an unrelated subject and am generally good at and enjoy studying - I have been able to have full conversations with non-English speakers starting from about ~2 years ago, read Chinese books for fun, and have continued to focus on improvement. You have to do a decent number of placement tests. There is both written (questions, fill in the blank, etc.) as well as a video component. They assess your speaking and reading ability. Based on your placement test and your particular needs, they recommend placement into a level of their program. You can use your own material if you prefer, or have a particular area of study. The course is expensive. The semester was divided into two sub-terms. Each subterm I was assigned 2 teachers, and focused on different material. The amount of work is significant - I took 2 hours of 1-1 classes per day, 5 days per week. After this, I had about 2 hours of homework per day. They were transparent about this up-front, and it is something I decided to commit to. For people who are full-time students, I believe that this amount of work is doubled. There were two 10-minute presentations that we had to give. Other types of homework depend on the student and teachers, but I wrote a ~600 word essay every week in addition to other classwork. Review of the Program: The teachers were excellent. I liked all 4 of them - they were engaged, willing to go out of their way to help, and seemed really dedicated to the students. The material is out of date and boring - they are using material from either the late 90s or early 2000s and seriously need an update. I believe the material is the same as when the program was based in Taiwan years ago. Due to the online format, you will NOT feel immersed. I knew this going into it, and committing to 4 hours of Chinese per day was already significantly more than what I had been doing. An online program will never compare with doing an in-person, in-country program. However, due to the point I'm at in my life, going to Chinese for this period of time is not a realistic option (and my wife almost killed me for the time commitment that this program cost me anyway 😉 ) There is no interaction with other students aside from the two presentations during the semester. I didn't meet a single other student - but I prefer this, since I'm not signing up for the program to talk to other students. Analysis of outcomes: It is hard to measure self improvement, but here is what I would say: My vocabulary improved substantially My listening ability improved substantially My essay/speech writing improved substantially It is hard for me to evaluate my speech improvement. I believe it improved a little bit. That's about it. Happy to answer any questions if you have any!
    18 points
  3. Long time lurker, first time poster...thought this data might be of interest to some of you. The graph below shows my increasing reading speed over the course of about 15.6 million characters read between December 2018 and July 2020 (so just over a year and a half). Some notes: Reading time includes time spent looking up unknown words in Pleco's document reader, creating Pleco flashcards, and googling unknown references, plus a little occasional texting. Most of what I read was webnovels, with a few real books thrown in here and there. Other than starting out with a webnovel that I'd heard was easy, I didn't make much of an attempt to filter for difficulty. When I started, I'd learned around 1600 characters (recognition only), but I'm a heritage speaker, so my vocabulary was probably somewhat larger than that of a second-language learner who knows an equal number of characters. At this point I'd say I recognize 4000 characters or so. I read roughly the first 2.5 million characters either fully out loud or muttered under my breath, and switched to reading silently only when reading out loud began to noticeably slow me down. I still tend to semi-voluntarily mouth the words when reading something unfamiliar or difficult. I hope this is helpful for someone, as my small attempt to give back after all the time I've spent reading the massive amount of accumulated wisdom on these forums.
    15 points
  4. After a pretty rough year, I don't even want to look at my language goals from 2020. On the one hand, after about four months of really solid studying starting of the year it all tapered off and I didn't really pick it back up until a month or two ago in large part due to switching jobs, dealing with COVID, and other personal things that happened. On the other hand, with all those experience now turned to memories I'm ready for a fresh start. At this point, my language ability has mostly stabilized in the advanced range. What I mean is that recall and fluency is very rarely a challenge at this point. However, I want to move from sounding fluent to sounding educated, which means starting to develop a more robust literary vocabulary as well as branching out into more specialized vocabulary. I feel like I'm back in the "collecting new words" phase after spending a lot of time digesting many years of learning, an advantage of some time off of studying while still living in China. So, my modest language goals for this year are: 1) Learn 3 new words per day and spend 20 mins studying/reviewing vocabulary. I assume I'll have some days that go beyond three and hope to hit 1000 by the year's end. In the interest of developing literary Chinese I'm getting these words from the collection of essays used for the 普通话水平测试 which has the added benefit of moving me toward a long term goal of passing that test with a high score. I want to reach the same score required of native speakers to be 语文 teachers. 2) Write one essay (>1000字) each month and go through two rounds of feedback and revision. This is a new one for me and will consider it on trial while I figure out how well it works into my life. I welcome feedback if anyone has set writing goals before. 3) Read the books I have on my shelf: 《红高粱家族》、《蒋勋说宋词》、《一只独立行的猪》、《白夜行》、《雅舍小品》. The last one is a challenge but I'm hoping that after building up my literary vocabulary in the 1st goal I'll be closer to comprehensible input when I return to it. I also have 《吾国与吾民》but have been told the original English version is much better than the translated version. However, it's also a classic so I might try to read both. I won't be using vocabulary from these from my 3 words per day and will instead just take what I get from passive learning.
    14 points
  5. I've been waiting for the past two years to go and see a Broadway performance in Shanghai after seeing Matilda but COVID has rendered that impossible. I decided to try out a Chinese production of Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" at 上海话剧艺术中心 yesterday. First of all, the whole production was amazing. The performances for Stanley and Blanche were something else entirely and I've already purchased tickets to the Chinese production of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." On the language side of things, though, I was stoked to walk out of the theater having understood nearly all of the performance! There were roughly three moments where I really just didn't understand a few sentences, one of which was a joke that got quite the laugh. Beyond that, though, it was all smooth sailing, even picking up on some new puns added during the translation to Chinese. I'm not sure when I crossed the line to being able to understand Chinese at this level (native speed, good enunciation, lots of colloquialisms, no subtitles/live, non-ideal listening environment with distracting secondary noises) but I'm elated that I have. This was a good boost as I've spent nearly all of my reading time this summer reading books in English despite originally having a goal of adding a lot of advanced vocabulary. Additionally, this was also a moment where I realized this is another way I can study the language in a rewarding way. I'll be purchasing the translation of "Death of a Salesman" to study the language in advance. Aiming for as close to 100% comprehension as I can get. I'll look for some quality Chinese dramas if the experiment with "Death of a Salesman" goes well. Are there any listening comprehension milestones that other's have passed? Did it just kind of sneak up on you or could you see yourself getting closer and closer to it?
    13 points
  6. I hired a calligrapher and created an animated Anki flashcard deck for learning cursive Chinese. It's available for purchase here. Like my HSK 3.0 vocabulary deck (which financed this project), I will be donating 30% of all proceeds to UNICEF.
    12 points
  7. Most reviews of Chinese language programs focus on reflections immediately after the student finished. I instead want to share my review of ICLP 5 years later now that I am in the workforce, in the US, and do not always use Chinese formally. I believe this is particularly important because the majority of Chinese language learners unfortunately do not have the luxury - or desire - to live or work in China/Taiwan/etc. for an extended period of time. How does ICLP prepare you for a life of using Chinese? https://iclp.ntu.edu.tw/ Summary: ICLP helped me bridge the gap from conversational Chinese to native material. I will remember my year in Taiwan as one of my favorite chapters in life. I now have friendships with people only in Chinese and even interviewed for a job in Chinese. I owe this to the intensity of ICLP and its principles. I believe it is important for people to have as much information as possible before deciding to take time out of their life (and money) to move to a foreign country and study a language. I can comfortably and confidentially use Chinese professionally, even years later. ICLP was integral to helping me get there. Why ICLP: I went to ICLP because I wanted: To sound educated/professional when speaking Chinese I did not major in Chinese in undergrad or grad school; studying Chinese was always a part time endeavor Bridge the gap to native material Learn traditional characters Experience life in a Chinese society outside of the PRC Chinese level before ICLP: I had taken and passed HSK 5 (max 6) a year before attending ICLP. I believe that equates to ~1500 characters. However, my vocabulary was a bit more expansive because I lived in China. In undergrad, I studied two semesters of Chinese (Integrated Chinese textbook series) followed by a semester of study abroad in China. The next 2-3 years were completely self study and work with a tutor. I mostly used the BLCU textbooks for self study with tutor. Needless to say, I did not have much formal training. I lived in China for ~2 years before attending ICLP. I quickly realized I could start a conversation but had difficulty continuing it. Therefore, I focused less on grammar and simply crammed vocabulary so I could communicate most effectively - difficult to measure language “level” this way. I had also stopped using Anki and flash card because of time constraints. By the time I enrolled at ICLP, I was very conversational and handled my Taiwan Visa at the TECO office in person using Chinese. I could read the People’s Daily fairly comfortably. I spent a week a friend’s house for Spring Festival and was able to follow along with most of the 春晚 broadcast and talk to them about it. TV shows like 爱情公寓 and novels/books were challenging because of the unknown vocabulary. I would pick up a book and get discouraged after a chapter and the same after an episode or two or a show. I was right at the cusp of native material and wanted to take a year at ICLP to make substantial progress. I hope this helps assess where I was heading into the program. ICLP review: Placement test: The placement test is fairly straightforward with both a written and spoken portion. The written portion is multiple choice fill in the blank and gets progressively more difficult. Everyone takes the same test and most don't score 100%. It also serves as an exit exam and the person with the greatest score increase at the end of the year wins an award. The spoken portion is with two teachers. I do not believe the details of these exams are particular important because it is important to start at the appropriate level. Many students are disappointed with their placement and believe they should be a level higher. I had similar feelings as I knew >90% of the vocab and grammar in the text. However, everyone ultimately understands that they started in the right place. The program is difficult and its important that you truly know and internalize what you think you know when starting on day one. Teaching methods: You will be speaking all class, not listening to the teacher lecture at you. For those familiar with the method, its a flipped classroom. Your teacher will tell you what section of the text will be covered in the next class. You are expected to review the text, vocab, and grammar ahead of class. You will not be able to reference the text, your phone, or dictionary during class. You focus on using the grammar structure, using key vocab correctly, and then talk about the text and your own views on it. I don't want to use the word "drill" because the class is ultimately one big conversation. The thought is: if you can speak well, you can write well. Just because you can write well, doesn't mean you can speak well. I believe this approach to be ideal. For example, there are no final exams, only mid-term exams. "Finals" are a 3-5 min speech/presentation given to the program. Yes other programs are cheaper and use the same textbooks. However, ICLP's value is its pedagogy. They also train other Chinese language teachers. Group classes: Three of your four classes will be small group classes of 3-4 students. You have one core class using the core text for that level and two "elective" classes. These range from TV news, to short stories, to classical Chinese. You will need 3 students interested in taking the elective course for it to be offered. Happy lobbying. You can "stretch" your chinese by taking an elective a level up from your core class (sometimes). I do not recommend this. You will have ~50 new words a day per class and 5-10 new grammar patterns. You will have enough to cover. the program is structured effectively so no need to be over-ambitious because you want to squeeze out every minute of every dollar of the program. Your teacher and classmates will get upset if you're slowing down the class. Overall the classes are fun...if and only if you are prepared. You get to know your classmates and teacher using Chinese. You're not parroting the text or drilling mindlessly. The teachers try to have a dialogue where you answer questions using certain vocab or grammar. Its nice to get into discussions about your thoughts on a text, related current events, or about students in your course. I personally found this to be a really rewarding environment because classroom content was more about using and thinking in Chinese vs memorizing a text. The best teachers do this very well. One-on-one: Through the 500-level core class (思想與社會), your one-on-one will be used to supplement and re-enforce the content in your core class. The teacher has a curriculum of stuff to cover even during on-on-one. If you have a firm grasp of the material, you can really use the rest of the hour to make it your own. From 600 and above, the one-on-one is entirely at your discretion. I often sent my teacher long-form newspaper or magazine articles ahead of time. We then used the class time to discuss. Other students (eg. PhD) will use this time to dive into research material. Textbooks: 思想與社會 is their bread and butter. It's used elsewhere in Taiwan and there is a version used at IUP in Beijing as well. Some textbooks are written by ICLP and others are 3rd party (lower levels). Some students have reservations about outdated texts and one or two books with some typos. I personally think these reservations are fairly trivial. Yes, you don't want to speak/write as someone from a past generation, but your textbooks should not be your only input method, especially in a native environment like Taiwan. The register of the material is more formal/learned and for their intended intended purpose, I think they're top notch. You will need to supplement textbooks for informal/colloquial vocab and grammar patterns. Program community: I made some of my best friends in life through ICLP. Its a great opportunity to be around many like-minded people from all over the world doing the same thing. While in the ICLP building, one must speak Chinese. However, English does tend to dominate the discussion outside of class. I did have relationships with some classmates primarily in Chinese outside of class. The two largest cohorts are American and British. Students range from undergraduates studying abroad, graduate students, mid-career professionals, academics, and everything in between. The teachers all want you to succeed and even take your learning personally at times. It was the most supportive academic environment I have experienced. Cost: Non-Americans will have sticker shock. American students often think the program is affordable compared to US tuition. As long as you are clear what you want out of the program going in, you will not have buyers remorse. I recommend applying for the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship. I was able to live off the 25K NTD per month but had to budget accordingly - rent and food. Tuition, travel, and nights out were out of my own budget. Living in Taiwan: Taipei/Taiwan is a nice native environment for learning Chinese. I lived in Northeast China immediately before attending ICLP - which is great for "standard mandarin" as many on this forum attest. However, I found Taipei great for daily life as a student. It was much easier to just "plug in" and use Chinese in daily interactions. Plenty of coffee shops to study near/off campus. The coffee shop culture in Taipei's alleys is actually pretty great if that's your thing. Hiking and weekend trips are easy. Some classmates even rented a van to drive to a music festival. ICLP can be intense during the week if you really buckle down and study. I appreciated how easy it was to get out of the city and go hiking, go to the coast, or even fly to HK for a quick getaway. The metro can even get you to some pretty great spots. The urban sprawl of some Chinese cities makes this a bit more difficult, but still doable. Several of my friends would go elsewhere in Asia too over holidays, namely the Philippines. ICLP takeaways: Who should attend: IUP in Beijing has a minimum 2-year Chinese pre-requisite. You can start at ICLP as a complete beginner - I believe this is a business decision. The program is best used to polish your Chinese and take it to the "next level" for formal/learned/professional uses. The return on investment is greatest for advanced learners who can already pick up a paper, turn on the tv and get the gist, and have a conversation. Its arguably one of the best place for classical chinese as well. Because beginners don't always have a feel for the rhythm of the language, you risk sounding too mechanical/formal after time at ICLP. What the program is not: Don't attend ICLP if your main focus is colloquial Chinese. Slang and colloquial speech simply isn't the focus of the program. On this forum and others, you will find mentions of ICLP students speaking like a textbook. I believe the ability to pick up a book, read a newspaper, give a speech, or talk about complex ideas is much more valuable in the long run than simply chatting and making friends. Strong foundation: I've been in the US since ICLP. Any language learner fears "losing" their progress, especially after investing the years that Chinese requires. The programs helps build a foundation that I often compare to Mad Libs; the structure is there and I just fill it in with new vocab as needed. Years later and I am able to maintain my Chinese because ICLP helped me bridge the gap to native material. I cannot overstate how incredibly important it is to enter native material if you're not living in Greater China. Your world expands infinitely when you can dive into books, tv, novels, apps, personal relationships, etc. in Chinese. I can turn on the TV or read a Chinese newspaper years after leaving ICLP - exactly what I knew I would get from the program.
    12 points
  8. I could have hardly imagined the day, but 1200 pages later, I'm finally finishing the Three Body trilogy (Chinese edition) by Liu Cixin. I suppose it's been satisfying to read a critically acclaimed series in its original language, to feel each book getting progressively easier to read, and to grapple with ambitious, abstract scientific/philosophical ideas in a language that is foreign to me. By now, one would think I'm getting tired of Sci-Fi (and I am), but using the aid of the Chinese Text Analyzer tool, I've ranked the remainder of my library from easy to difficult (in terms of the percentage of unknown vocabulary). The next book is, therefore, "Cat Country" by Lao She (another space travel book), bound into a single volume with "Xiao Po's Birthday." I know a lot of people on this site have read Cat Country and think highly of it. I'm looking forward to it! I understand that even though the vocabulary is simple, the writing style might be a bit old and hard to follow.
    11 points
  9. I can speak from a certain degree of personal experience, because I made the transition from graded readers to native-level novels about 1.5 years ago (I felt that graded readers stopped feeling profitable after the 2500 level). 活着 is a really great choice for a first book, and I think that with your level of vocabulary, you're in a good place for it. Granted, it's still going to be a grind. I had an HSK6 vocabulary when I read it, and I still had to look up about 750 words. I've read 8 different books so far, and they've averaged about 1200 new/unknown words for each book (although that number is falling off a cliff, because I'm encountering less and less new words). Using Pleco's clipboard reader (so I could quickly look up words with a touch of the screen and add them to my SRS flashcards) proved absolutely vital. Kudos to any of those old-school learners out there who managed to pull it off without any such tools. I've found that the most important thing to do (which, unfortunately, I didn't do) is to get a feel for the difficulty of a given book. You can analyze it with CTA, and you can also sample a few pages to get a "feel" for it. For me, anyway, it's never been a matter of vocabulary, because I can always look up words I don't know. Rather, I've found that some authors use really obscure, ambiguous, and/or literary sentence structures or phrases. Too often I would think, "Well, I know all the words here, but I can't make heads or tails of the sentences! I haven't even been tracking with the last 3 paragraphs!" Ultimately, I forced myself to slog through a few really hard books, when I really should have just set them aside and saved them for later. I know people often look for easy and/or good reads in these forums, so here's been my experience thus far, for what it's worth: 1. "To Live" by Yu Hua (really great for a first book) 2. "We Three" by Yang Jiang (crushingly difficult and quite a traumatic experience, though quite short) 3. "Three Body Problem" by Liu Cixin (a massive amount of vocabulary to learn--2000 new words--but it reads smoothly and has an English translation) 4. "Life" by Lu Yao (really smooth and enjoyable to read, like Yu Hua's book) 5. "Secrets of the Namiya General Store" (解忧杂货店) by Keigo Higashino (a popular Chinese translation of a Japanese book; another relatively smooth and fun read) 6. "Decoded" by Mai Jia (I thought I was getting the hang of reading since the Higashino novel, but this overwhelming book nearly did me in). 7. "Golden Age" by Wang Xiaobo (rumored to be an easy book, but I had an extremely difficult time with it and found the language quite opaque) 8. "Three Body Problem 2" by Liu Cixin (really easy and enjoyable by this point; I began to feel like things were taking off) I think I have passed the "peak" difficulty with contemporary Chinese, and it generally just gets easier from here, but in order to know for sure, I just need to continue. I haven't fully "arrived" yet. I wish you the best on your journey!
    11 points
  10. @mungouk -- About seasoning your new wok, even though you probably already know these basics, please let me review them here all in one place. (These are specific to your wok, a cast iron wok 铸铁炒锅。) 1. Scrub the wok out with dish detergent and warm water. This is mainly to remove the surface protectant coating which the manufacturer applies to keep the wok from rusting while it is in a warehouse or on the shelf of a retail store. A dish rag or plastic dish scrubbing pad will usually do the trick, but if not, it's OK to resort to harsher measures. In China one can easily buy stainless steel wire scrubbing balls in all grocery stores and supermarkets for very little money. They make quick work of the process. They are called by several brand names, but asking a clerk for 厨房用清洁炒锅铁丝求 will get what you need. (Dishwashing detergent is called 清洁剂 and 白猫 is a popular brand.) 2. Rinse the wok several times to get rid of all the detergent you have used. Heat it on your burner or flame at a medium-high setting for a couple minutes until it is completely dry. Pour in a little bit (one or two teaspoons) of high-smoke-point cooking oil. Canola oil 玉米油 or rapeseed oil 菜籽油 are suitable and readily available. (Olive oil 橄榄油 is not a good choice.) Rub it around. I do this by grasping a wadded-up paper towel with chopsticks. You want to thinly coat the entire surface, but you don't want a pool of oil in the bottom of the pan. Let it continue to cook on medium-high for 15 or 20 minutes, rubbing it with a little fresh oil when it begins to look dry. It will smoke during this process. At the very end of the process, with the pan still hot, I rub the outside well with an oily paper towel. I don't obcess over truly curing the exterior surfaces. 3. If you have time, let the wok cool down, rinse with soapy water as above, dry it and season it again. Even twice more makes sense. If not, that's OK. Once will get the job done pretty well. The idea behind this seasoning process is that the steel of the wok is microscopically porus and the clean hot oil is allowed to bond with it and produce a smooth, non-stick surface. The high temperature allows this oil to polymerize and behave somewhat like a plastic. Since you are using an induction hob instad of a flame, take special care to get the wok thoroughly hot. If it is not hot enough, the surface will wind up being sticky. 4. Serious Chinese home cooks carry it one step further. I am not personally convinced it is actually worth the trouble, though I do follow the dogma out of a religious hope that it is slightly beneficial. This step involves seasoning the wok with a neutral vegetable in addition to oil. Jiuci 韭菜 is the one usually recommended; it is sold year around in fist-sized bunches for 5 or 6 Yuan. Heat the wok to medium high, add oil as before, but this time put in enough jiucai to loosely cover the bottom of the pan. Let it cook until it starts to blacken and char, then grab it with your chopsticks and rub it all around the inside of the pan, being careful to include the sides (not only the bottom.) I do that several times, with several batches of jiucai. (The jiucai is ruined by this; throw it away.) Spring onions 小葱 can be used for this, but they cost more than jiucai. 5. When I use the wok for cooking, I clean it mainly with warm water and a scrub brush. If something has stuck to the pan, I let it soak with hot water for half an hour or so, then scrub it again. I don't use detergent. Rarely I will use the metal scouring ball. Mechanical cleaning is preferable to chemical cleaning since it is less likely to remove the deeply-bonded food oils. (You want those to remain because they make the pan slicker and shinier over time.) 6. When I have washed the wok and rinsed it well, I set it over low flame for half a minute or so and wipe it out with a paper towel. This insures that it is thoroughly dry. Put a small splash of cooking oil on a wadded-up paper towel and rub it all over while it is hot. When it cools, wipe it with a dry rag or paper towel to remove excess visible oil and put it away. I keep my wok in a disposable recycled rag-fabric bag from the supermarket. This allows me to "nest" another smaller pan in it without scratching. (A plastic bag is not a good idea because it traps atmospheric moisture and encourages rust; the bag needs to "breathe.") 7. Once every six or eight months I give it a "mini re-seasoning" just to maintain it at its prime. The only other care precaution that comes to mind is that I don't store food in it overnight since that can degrade the cured surface of the metal and might also make the food taste funny. My wok keeps getting better and better. It's a pleasure to use. I can usually heat it to medium, wipe it with a tiny amount of oil on a paper towel, crack one or two fresh eggs into it sunny-side-up and move them around just by gently shaking the pan. (That's only when I'm showing off or testing the pan; typically I do use oil when frying.)
    11 points
  11. From the outstanding multi-media publication RADII ("an independent platform of artists, writers and creators dedicated to sharing vibrant stories from the rarely explored sides of new China"): 100 films that may help to better understand China. The list is split into 10 categories: Pre-War, Mao Years, Opening Up, Indie and Arthouse, Documentaries, Wuxia, Popcorn, China Today, Bad Movies, Animation. Where available, there are links to the individual films. The You Tube links I tried were working but unfortunately some links are region-dependent or no longer available. Be prepared to be disappointed. Even with unavoidable disappointments, this is a valuable list, and a real treasure-trove for China's pre-War films (anyone for melodrama?)
    10 points
  12. This year will be my 7th year of Chinese! How time flies 😄. Still have my eyes set on getting to a pretty decent (but far from perfect) level of Chinese by the 10 year mark. My biggest goal for 2021 is to improve my speaking skills. I've developed some fairly good daily study habits based on some posts by imron which I was fortunate enough to read pretty early on. One goal is essentially to just keep with it. 1) Have 150 hours worth of voice calls on HelloTalk. I've decided to keep a log of the hours. So far I've done 4 hours and a half and it's only been 5 days 😃. I probably did 100+ hours of this last year and it's worked wonders for my speaking ability. One nice consequence of this is that I've gotten much better at understanding accented mandarin. Having a voice call with a girl who grew up in the villages of Sichuan or a guy in Guangdong with a super non-standard accent does wonders for understanding accented mandarin in a way which watching TV shows really can't compete with. 2) Learn 4 new words per day in Anki. I'll bump it up to 5 if I end up my bumping down the number of characters I learn per day. 3) Go through 500 new characters in my Anki deck. That'll bring me up to 4000 characters in my deck. Right now I'm doing 3 characters a day but will tone it back to 1 or 2 characters per day if need be. 4) Watch at least one episode of some TV show a day. I tend to watch an hour or two of Chinese videos/shows each day. Maybe a better goal would be to do at least 30 minutes per day. I'm rather fond of 相声 so listening to half an hour of 相声 instead of a TV show would work just as well. I'd like to read more novels but honestly even if I were completely fluent in mandarin I still wouldn't read all that many novels so I consider it a secondary goal. I think it's better to practice what I intend to use the language for. Having said that, I'll still make some effort to read.
    10 points
  13. Time for a recap: whole year: take HSK5 and pass with a good score Nope, didn't want to do the online test read a few easy Chinese novels Yes, on my 7th right now, and will be done before the end of the year:) each month: write at least one essay longer than one page Nope, only wrote an irregular diary for the first half of the year each week: take 2 classes with 50/50 focus textbook/free talk Yes, kind of, though it was way more free talk read a few news articles Sometimes, but often I just read my current novel instead watch at least one episode of a TV show / consume some other video content Yes, watched quite a few shows and movies each day: vocabulary study (~10 new words) Yes, but I gradually reduced it to 5 new words, review time was getting to long I'm satisfied overall, but next year I have to come up with a plan to do more writing. I'll make a plan and post it in next year's topic.
    10 points
  14. I'm currently back in Texas because of the travel restrictions surrounding this Covid mess. Friends sometimes ask why in the world I ever liked living in a place such as Kunming. Lately, by means of reply, I've given several of them links to these picture stories about Tanhua Temple 昙花寺, one of my favorite easy places. It's a bit clumsy to reach by public transportation, no bus goes right to the door,. So I usually ride my bike. Only 15 or 20 minutes from my Kunming apartment. This quiet place hasn't made it onto the "tourist circuit," and I don't even find it mentioned in most English-language guidebooks. Admission is cheap. It's never crowded. When I started digging around in the forum archives for links to my write-ups of this peaceful place, I discovered I had posted about it three times, roughly a year apart. Not surprising, since I love to go there. Thought I would share these illustrated articles with you today, realizing that quite a few of today's members are new. Hope you enjoy a short look. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55348-a-minor-kunming-park-昙花寺公园/ -- Nov, 2017 https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/57023-burning-some-incense-烧佛香/?tab=comments#comment-442020 -- Aug, 2018 https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/59293-a-walk-in-the-park/ -- Nov, 2019
    9 points
  15. Its that time of year - share your aims and objectives for the coming year here! For me, I have two areas I really want to push myself forward into: 1) Reach 150WPM in shorthand speed. I halfheartedly began learning Pitman shorthand back in 2018; it got put on the back burner until lockdown this year, and now I've finished all the textbooks and workbooks available. Currently sitting at a mediocre 40-50WPM. I want to be able to note take speeches at speeds exceeding 150WPM by this time next year (roughly the normal speed of human speech). 2) Second goal is related to first. I want to complete translations of 100 news articles in Chinese by sight interpreting directly into shorthand. Thats around 1 article every 3 days, so this is a big goal that I'm committing to. As a result, thats it for me for targets for this year.
    9 points
  16. Some Taiwanese podcasts specifically for Chinese learners (roughly ordered by difficulty): Inspire Mandarin https://inspiremandarin.com transcripts: no very beginner friendly Learn Taiwanese Mandarin https://lear-taiwanese-mandarin.webnode.tw/ transcripts: yes beginner friendly Talk Taiwanese Mandarin with Abby https://talktaiwanesemandarin.com/ transcripts: yes Mandarin with Miss Lin https://www.patreon.com/MandarinWithMissLin transcripts: yes (paid, via patreon) 還可中文 Haike Mandarin https://haikemandarintw.blogspot.com/ transcripts: yes
    9 points
  17. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/60490-test-users-for-online-class-system-wanted-free-classes/?tab=comments#comment-475544 After seeing the above, I tried out LTL’s system for online classes. I contacted Andreas for some free trial lessons. I have read his previous postings on the forum with interest (especially the home stay and Chengde) but never taken any lessons with LTL. My background prior to classes: 1. First started with online classes with an online school 2. Moved on to italki with most classes under community tutors and not following any structure 3. Long hiatus of taking paid lessons 4. Experimenting with language exchange and self study 5. Long breaks of no study 6. Speak Cantonese to good intermediate level 7. Recognising all characters HSK 4 is a bit difficult though the majority are recognisable. Never taken a HSK exam After discussion with Andreas, we decided to try out the HSK 3 lessons. We agreed it would be OK to ‘step down’ given my lack of a structured class in the past and lack of objective assessment of level of Chinese. Registration and password creation was pretty painless. I used an IPad Pro to register and somehow I managed to setup the faceID recognition that helps me login. Organisation Lesson for Introduction, HSK1, HSK2, HSK3 are available. Higher levels are coming later. These lower levels are small group classes to a maximum of 6 persons. You select the level you want and a small selection of suggested lessons at the appropriate level appears. You also get a summary of the lessons you have had before and a simple barchart of your progress in terms of lessons taken - it’s a simple thing but very helpful to be able to eyeball the lessons taken and whether you have repeated any lessons (come back to that later), When you go into booking classes, you see how they’ve setup. I don’t know how other schools setup their group online classes but once I worked out how they arrange classes, to me it looks good. There are multiple group classes available for selection during the day. For my Beijing time zone, there were even classes at 4am - logical if your target market is Europe. Over the 24 hour period, there’s a selection from 12 lessons throughout the day. If you decide 24 hours beforehand about taking a lesson, the available classes are reduced. I presume that no other students have booked that class (it’s still a new platform) and that some of classes have been cancelled to free up the teachers. If you want to book a class the next day, then it’s more than likely the class already has another participant. If you book 72h in advance, the lesson will still go ahead even if you are the sole participant. I had two lessons by myself with the teacher and that would be very cost effective. One lesson was with a student in Germany. Their system is relatively intuitive and straightforward to pick certain days to book a lesson(s) - e.g. every Saturday and preferred time slots. Then you can see what classes are available to chose from. Once you get used to it, it’s very efficient. Before you confirm a lesson, each choice has the lesson materials available so you can see if the lesson contents matches to what you want to learn or review. Overall, I liked the system. There was quirk where I thought I was selecting certain day but it was the reverse and I removed that day from my selection list. The lessons have the names of the teachers so I suppose if you have a preference for a teacher , then you could follow that teacher. I haven’t taken enough lessons to evaluate that fully. The lessons are also roughly classified into topics - practice, grammar, vocabulary. If there’s a particular lesson you want to take, instead of searching day by day for the next occurrence of that lesson, you to select it and then you can see every single day that particular lesson is held with its time slot in the next few months. Besides the learning materials, there are links to LTL’s own blogs. After your lesson, you can give an evaluation for each lesson. Unfortunately I missed evaluating one of the classes. You can easily see what lessons you have had in the past except for the one I just took - that particular one hasn’t appeared on the system which is a bit strange. One disadvantage is it’s difficult to cancel a lesson at short notice because you are the only person in a class. This should be less of a problem if a few students have signed up. Lesson experience As mentioned previously, I didn’t really know my level as I tend to learn by trying to experiment with sentences and learn by talking to people. That’s why my output is quite haphazard trying to sometimes translate from English or Cantonese style into Mandarin sentences. For two of the lessons, I was on my own. Thank you to those teachers for giving the lesson to only one student! The benefit was I had full attention and go through the lesson at my own pace. One lesson had someone from Germany. That’s the first ever time I had taken an online class with another person and it was useful to compare myself with another learner as I really don’t know how far I have come in the journey compared to some peers, especially with regards to HSK. To be honest, there’s quite a lot of material in the lesson. We went straight into it without messing around with nice introductions and small talk. I went through the lesson fairly quickly as I am familiar with the vocabulary. That let me focus better on grammar points. I thought my performance dropped for the lesson that had two of us - we took turns in answering and I would drift out of focus when it wasn’t my turn. Even on my own and moving rapidly through the material, that filled up the whole hour so I wonder how much material they can cover if there were four people in a class. As a caveat, at the end of the class, we went through the homework exercises as well so I must have got through the learning materials pretty quickly. The teachers were experienced and engaging. If the lesson is in the evening, my connection definitely was worse needing to switch to voice only over Zoom. That’s something I also noticed in the past a few years ago when doing my italki lessons where just voice would be difficult. At least my lessons now had clear voice communication and only video affected. The teachers didn’t spend much time correcting my pronunciation or tones. This was where my joint lesson became useful because I could observe another learner and she definitely required a lot more attention than me on pronunciation. Despite that, she managed to get through the material pretty well and I thought the teacher struck a good balance of letting her try and helping out. Looks like all that time I put in shadowing sentences on my own has helped a lot. One of the teachers said I should be at HSK 4 level but I was happy enough at these HSK 3 level classes as I could fully focus on the finer details grammar points without having to worry about problems with too much new vocabulary, pronunciation errors, unfamiliar characters etc. This fine tuning will help my delivery and fluidity of Chinese. On a learning satisfaction level, I would give a 5/5 because although I’m not learning new vocabulary, I am learning to use what I already know better. At this level, some of the teaching was done using English - not an issue for a group class. I could have handled more explanations using Chinese but each teacher was different and had never met me before. It’s reasonable to expect they would take a safer option. I am not sure if it’s a style of Chinese teaching but they don’t give much feedback on your performance in class. It is definitely a skill to provide constructive feedback that can encourage a student rather than discourage them so perhaps it’s a safer option to avoid it. Thinking back to the past, now I realise it’s rare to get any feedback for Chinese classes except “你的中文很好” which I automatically take no notice of. Summary It’s good. A lot of thought has gone into the design of the booking system and layout. For a new system built from scratch, it’s been done very well. The weakness of my review is that I haven’t tried other learning platforms from other schools making inter school comparisons difficult. I also only took the HSK3 level classes. I am not sure how other people react to having different teachers for different lessons - with the limited number of lessons so far, it’s a bit like University where a lecturer might come in for only certain classes. For any learner of Chinese and looking for online small group classes, I would definitely recommend them trying out LTL. They make it easy to choose times for lessons across the world, hence the description “Flexi class”.
    9 points
  18. I'm subscribed to about a dozen different Chinese YouTube channels, but my favorite, by far, is 李永乐老师. His content is extremely interesting and top-notch, and rather than simply build the subtitles directly into the video, he uses YouTube subtitles. That means that I can use the "Zhongwen Popup Chinese Dictionary" browser extension to hover my mouse over the subtitle text and get a quick translation of any words I don't know. Most other Chinese channels that I've seen don't really have that feature. That also means that when I want to practice without the subtitles, I can turn them off. It's perfect for learning.
    9 points
  19. I've achieved a big milestone recently. Up until the last few months my significant other(a native) would never speak mandarin with me. When I first started, I pushed it but she wouldn't budge. I let it go and decided not to push it anymore. Still had her mother to speak Chinese with. As I've improved, expanded my vocabulary, grammar etc, I casually - even accidentally would slip in some mandarin and she kind of naturally started replying in mandarin. It has happened quite naturally. Lately she's even been starting conversations with me in Chinese sometimes. Also, if she says something in English to me that I want to hear in Chinese or that is well within my understanding, I say "再说一遍“, she's a good sport about it and says it again in Chinese. Other than that, I'm still not pushing it. I also don't bother her with grammar questions and the like. Right now I suppose it's 25 percent Chinese 75 English, but a huge change from zero. I'm sure as I continue to improve my skills the percentage will shift further.
    9 points
  20. This is relatively new as the Microsoft's Edge Chromium browser was only released to the public a few months ago, and I haven't seen it mentioned here yet. Microsoft's new Edge browser can read aloud Chinese pages and pdfs (open in the browser), and you also have impressive new AI voices, can tweak the speeds, can change voices and practice reading alongside listening. You can also use Read Aloud in Word but not sure whether the Online voices are there yet. This page explains all : Use Learning Tools in the Edge browser - Office Support (microsoft.com) Try it, have it read the newspaper for you! You can use this Edge browser in other OS: iOS, Linux, Android, you name it, but they don't have the read aloud capability yet. Besides 听力,I am finding it a good tool to improve my reading speed, it really helps. The AI voices may not be perfect but have improved beyond recognition, these Online Natural voices are top of the range. I can't remember the names but they include Mandarin, Cantonese and Taiwan pronunciation (not Taiwanese). Enjoy!
    9 points
  21. Last year's goal reflection: One of my goals last year was to get my chinese 驾照, and boy did I just squeak that one in. As of Xmas eve of last year, I am now a licensed driver here in China! It took about 3 mo. of studying with 驾考宝典, 5 attempts, and plenty of times pestering my Chinese friends, but I did it in Chinese. I scored a 90, which means I just barely hit the 通过线. But boy, if I got a point for each time someone told me to just take it in English, I would've passed just on that alone. This year: Goal for this year is to finally get around to passing hsk 5 as well as signing up for a college course in Chinese (not a college chinese course). Not sure what the availability is like for night classes in Shanghai, so I can't commit yet. 加油 to everyone else 👍
    9 points
  22. Interesting idea. Just wanted to note that my experience of HelloTalk is completely different from yours. Background: I live in the US and have been studying Chinese as a hobby for almost 4 years (4 year anniversary is January!) I went through a period of time this year where HelloTalk was a major part of my study routine. I wanted to try to have some form of speaking practice every day, so if I didn't have a class that day, I would find someone on HelloTalk to talk to. My process was the following: 1. Make a post on HelloTalk asking if anyone was available to have a call, because I wanted to practice my Chinese (the post is written in Chinese) 2. Get bombarded with 10s of requests within seconds, because the ratio of Chinese learners to Chinese Natives is heavily skewed. Be careful of time of day in China before making these posts - if you make one during the middle of the night, you obviously won't get responses. 3. Respond to the ones who sent Chinese messages with an audio clip of me speaking Chinese. 4. If people continue to ONLY respond in Chinese, then I would initiate a call. I did most of these calls while walking the dogs, and they were usually 20-30 min long. I almost never had an issue where people started speaking English. If I did, I just explained I was looking to practice Chinese right now and we can talk some other time, then found a new partner. Everyone should place value on their time. I think you are misunderstanding the reason most people use apps like HelloTalk. People who are "serious" learners are the small minority; the vast majority are either (1) lonely, (2) curious about "foreigners", or (3) both. Simply find people who don't care to actually learn English, and even if your call is only in Chinese, it is still mutually beneficial and enjoyable. I don't know your Chinese level, but another thing that may be happening is that your Chinese level isn't quite good enough to be able to hold a conversation completely in Chinese without frustrating the other party. This will cause them to try to help you, and the easiest way to help is frequently by using English. I personally have steered away from conversation practice with other Chinese learners because (1) I don't want their accents and grammar mistakes to imprint upon me, (2) I live in the US, so I find incremental value in hearing people with different accents so that I can understand people that speak something other than "standard" Mandarin, and (3) it is SO easy to find native speakers interested in having conversations in full Mandarin on HelloTalk that I haven't found the need. To drive this point home, I did the above process for several MONTHS 4x per week, almost always speaking with a new person. It never took more than a few minutes to find a suitable partner.
    9 points
  23. I've hit a new milestone in my reading! My study habit entails learning all of the words in a book on a chapter-by-chapter basis, and reading the chapters as I go. When I started with my first book (The Witches, by Roald Dahl), I was doing about one chapter per week. Now I'm on my fifth book (The Giver, by Lois Lowry) and for the first time since I started at the beginning of the year, I was able to cover two chapters in a single day! This is SO exciting for me. Slowly but surely, the frequency of unknown vocab is shrinking...I am definitely looking forward to the day when I am able to just lose myself in books. Eventually the day will come when a day's vocabulary quota (30 words) will cover five or six chapters...and this week's milestone was a huge step in that direction. What milestones have y'all reached (or are looking forward to)?
    8 points
  24. I’m not an expert because I’m still around HSK 5 level and decided not to follow the HSK route anymore. I felt unmotivated after I finished HSK 4 because I couldn’t string simple sentences, couldn’t understand most of TV shows, podcast and unable to read native materials. My listening and reading have improved a lot in the last year and my speaking even though still awful but compared to where I was in 2019 has improved a little. I personally think apps and textbooks start to get redundant around this level because you want to be exposed to as much native materials (or close to) as possible as there are so many words, phrases and sentence patterns that are not covered by HSK but used so much in everyday lives. For my listening, I just listened to a lot of materials. I used Chinesepod, so I would listen to 2-3 Chinesepod lessons a day especially their upper intermediate lessons because they speak almost entirely in Chinese for 15 minutes a lesson, but I mixed it up with Intermediate lessons if they get too difficult. Any lessons that I find hard, I’d listen while looking at the transcript and re-listen the lessons multiple times. Sometimes I would listen to one lesson twice in a day then move on to next lesson but go back to it in a couple of days, I just rotate them so I don’t get bored listening to the same thing back to back. The more I listen especially after looking at the transcript the more I understand. You can also do this with any podcast made for learners, Chinese Colloquialised is a good one, Talk Taiwanese Mandarin Podcast is another one I listen to. Now I listen to quite a bit of regular podcasts made for native speaker and I would say I normally understand around 85-90% of what they’re saying depending on the topic. Youtube is also a good listening exercise as they’re normally short and there are a lot of materials you can go through. For reading I started reading some comics intended for native speaker. The first couple of comics were rough, I didn’t understand a lot but then it gets better, with comics it’s good if you stick with a series because then there will be a lot of vocabulary repetitions. I mix these up with reading lots of graded reader materials Mandarin Companion, Du Chinese, even ones that I thought was slightly below my level, they still help to train my comprehension ability and solidify my knowledge. So far now in term of native materials I have read about 10 comics intended for adult readers (the reason why I specify adult here is because I have read a couple of comics intended for kids like Doraemon, Ironfist Chinmi, and they are a lot easier so they feel more like graded reader materials to me), 1 short story Lu Xun’s Diary of A Madman, 1 romance novel 蜜汁燉魷魚 and currently reading my second novel To Live by Yu Hua half way through. Now reading comics is fairly easy for me so it actually becomes my reward instead of struggle. My speaking is still rubbish, because I don’t practice as much as the above but I started to have 2 hours semi private lessons every week with a teacher now to improve. I still think it would be lagging behind my listening, reading and writing because I’m only exposed to such limited amount of time interacting in Chinese. In short you just have to do what you want to be good at as much as possible especially using native contents, because apps and textbooks are normally too rigid and limited.
    8 points
  25. I think this type of advice is helpful if and only if you've already learned the Chinese grammar patterns in question. Some relevant patterns here: Degree complement Expressing "even" with "lian" and "dou" Expressing "about to happen" with "le"
    8 points
  26. Well first of all, everyone has their own learning preferences, so what works for one learner might not be good for another. I know some people will disagree, but I found it unhelpful to try and learn radicals first, or at least learning them on their own. They don't have consistent "translations" and knowing what they're called in Chinese isn't helpful unless maybe you're advanced. You can't actually use many of them on their own. I found that I became familiar with them over time... some of them are very common (part 2, part 3) and they are easy to recognise just through seeing them all the time in characters. When you come across a new character which has a component or radical that you already know, that will often give a clue to the meaning or pronunciation, or both. Since 80% of characters are phonetic-semantic compounds, this covers a lot of vocabulary. What I've found most useful is exploring the combination of components in each new character. (As with the Outlier Linguistics explanations in their Pleco dictionary; Tofulearn also has this kind of information too). If you study a structured syllabus like HSK then vocab will be introduced in a way that builds on characters you already know. Most Chinese words have 2 characters, and again if you already know one of them it will help you to remember the meaning of the word. I am fussy about software tools and I've changed around quite a bit. When I started off I was using Skritter and learning to write all the characters, but I found that was just too slow for the progress I wanted to make. I decided I wouldn't focus on learning to write, even though I noticed some benefits, such as muscle-memory helping with recalling a character. Instead I only type now, which is pretty much the same as in my mother language (my handwriting is terrible, because I hardly ever use a pen any more). Then I started using memrise.com (website rather than app, which at that time was very clunky). I liked the HSK vocab lists on there because most of the words have native-speaker audio, and the vocab is broken into manageable chunks, at least up to HSK 3. But I found that the higher-level user-generated lists have a lot of errors, so stopped using memrise and switched to the StickyStudy app (iOS only). StickyStudy is much better designed, and also has native audio for most words. I found native audio really important for helping me to remember tones. I can usually "hear" the audio in my head when I'm remembering how to say it. (Sometimes I "see" the pinyin with tone marks in my "mind's eye" too.) My teacher told me not to worry too much about tones to begin with, and I found that helpful... after a while, hearing correct pronunciation, a lot of the tones just "come" naturally. One general problem is that when you get to HSK 4 and higher you have a lot of new words to learn, so they need breaking up into sensible sections. I ended up making my own HSK 4 lists for StickyStudy organised by chapter in the standard textbook. At this level and above you really need to be learning the vocabulary for a chapter before you start working on it. (In the HSK 5 book each chapter has 35-50 new words, and there are 36 chapters!) Currently I've got decks for the first 15 HSK 5 textbook chapters as well, because that's where I'm up to. I will probably change again at some point, but at present my workflow is like this, using Pleco and StickyStudy side-by-side on my iPad in split-screen mode: Study the deck for the textbook chapter that's coming up next. If there's a character I'm not sure about, I copy it to the clipboard and go to Pleco to see it in the clipboard reader, then look it up. Scroll down and hopefully there's an Outlier explanation of sound and meaning components. Continue studying the deck. Whenever I realise I am mixing up 2 characters that look quite similar (外 and 处 are a recent example) I make a note of them so I can review them later. I hardly ever make use of mnemonics because I find them too slow. I probably only use them for characters I get confused (as above), or for characters where there is no phonetic component. I also keep notes of all the words my teacher has typed in our Skype classes, although I don't make an extra effort to learn them. Plus I have a "master" text file with all new words I'd looked up, for example when writing homework, or preparing to chat about a certain topic in a lesson. HSK 1-3 is 600 words of vocab and after that things increase rapidly — HSK 4 adds 600 new words, and HSK 5 after that adds another 1300 new words on top of those. My study habits changed after HSK 3, and like I said earlier I found it essential to learn the vocab before starting each new textbook chapter. There are many approaches and many useful software packages, and everyone has their own preferences. I would suggest trying things out to find out what works best for you, and don't struggle with one approach that doesn't suit you just because someone else recommended it or it was written on a blog. You will probably change your tools and approach as you go along anyway. btw "millions", really...? What's the rush? Enjoy the journey, there's a lot of interesting scenery along the way!
    8 points
  27. This one is a bit of a complex case. I actually had to revisit a lot of the research on these characters to answer this question (and to make sure I hadn't made any mistakes in the dictionary entries), and I'm going to end up rewriting some of the dictionary entries for 尚 and 堂 just to make them more clear. These were actually some of the very first entries we wrote, 6 years ago or so. Short story: 堂 is 尚 (sound) + 土 (meaning). The fact that 尚's original meaning had to do with halls doesn't automatically make it a semantic component, because it had lost that meaning by the time 尚+土=堂 was created, so the person who created 尚+土=堂 could only have been using 尚 for its sound. Now for the long answer. Look at this diagram while you read the rest of the explanation, because it's a bit convoluted: Originally (early Western Zhou), 堂 was written 冂. It was just a depiction of a large hall. It sometimes had two vertical lines above it, as a decorative mark, especially when it showed up as a component of other characters. This can be seen as a branch of evolution of 堂, and this branch pretty much ended here. We'll pick 堂 back up in a moment. 尚 was created by adding a 口 underneath and two horizontal lines above 冂. It meant "to go up into a hall" (上堂). So, 冂 (堂) is actually a semantic component of 尚, and the mouth and lines served to distinguish it from 冂 (堂). However, when 尚 was used as a component, the 口 was often omitted. By the Warring States period, 尚 sometimes appeared with a third mark (a vertical line) above the 冂, which is the origin of the modern form. Another character (again, we're back in the early Western Zhou) was created by adding a foot underneath 冂. Later, two horizontal lines were also added to the top of this by the same process as for 尚, creating [尚+止] (but with no 口). Scholars transcribe this as 尚 over 止, but there's no unicode support for this character so I can't type it. Later in the Western Zhou period, a new form of 堂 was created by adding 京 to [尚+止]. 京 was a depiction of a building, while [尚+止] was used as a sound component. Note that this isn't a continuation of the previous form of 堂. This is a new form, and also a very short-lived one. Later, during the Warring States period, yet another reformation of 堂 occurred: rather than 京 ("building" semantic component) plus [尚+止] (sound component), it became common to write the character as 尚+土, as it's written today. The Warring States was a very turbulent period of character evolution, and most new character formations during this time were 形聲字 (one semantic component, one sound component). The important thing to note is that by this time (late Warring States, around 700 years after the 冂 form appears), 尚 no longer retained its sense of "to go up into a hall." It just meant "above; high; lofty; to go up; to exalt" and so on. So the people who created this new version of 堂 were highly unlikely to be thinking of the original meaning, or even aware of it. In their minds, they were using 尚 purely for its sound. Note: this analysis is largely informed by 陳劍's 2008 paper,〈金文字詞零釋(四則)〉 which can be found here. Fair warning: it's dense reading. Keep in mind that most characters are 1 meaning component and 1 sound component, and most sound components don't carry any semantic value. A character like this is basically signaling to the reader, "the word whose meaning has to do with X (the semantic component), and which sounds like Y (the sound component)." So it's not that "earth alone becomes hall," but that "earth" (semantic) plus [zh/ch/sh/d/t]ang (sound) equals "táng, which means hall." As for how 土 has anything to do with a hall, stamped earth was a common building material, as it says in our entry.
    8 points
  28. “A chord is like a family.” A video where I teach beginner jazz harmony in Chinese. https://youtu.be/qrq5dHundbc
    8 points
  29. @Jan Finster Must say I find that a really odd approach, but each to their own. None of the words is obscure and rural life might not be what interests you but it's hardly a niche aspect of the culture.
    8 points
  30. Its that time of year once again, checking in to update on my 2020 progress. Its been a very strange year for all of us, and particularly so considering I'm back in the uk preparing for some new mutated COVID-20 uk lockdown nearly a year after getting trapped in Hubei with the mystery Wuhan virus. Bizarre... Anyway, onto how I did this year. 1) I managed to learn around 50 Tang poems off by heart, and it has really blown me away just how useful this has become for understanding wordplay and feeling in everyday Chinese, but especially so when watching TV dramas, where they get referenced all the time, and you wouldnt know otherwise. They sit there like little in jokes for those who know, and I strongly recommend learning some of the most common poems to all advanced learners who have yet to do so. 2) I still type in Cangjie, and to my surprise actually find it more of a mindfuck typing according to pinyin nowadays, it just feels like everything is mapped wrongly. That being said, I still frequently forget how some character is written and have to check a dictionary before I can continue. I have typed very little in Chinese in the last few months, so this is definitely a consequence of not having everyday practice to reinforce this skill. Still, very very happy to have managed to make the jump here, both on desktop and mobile. As for 2021, I believe the thread hasnt been made yet, so I'll go and do that later unless someone else wants to take the lead?
    8 points
  31. 1) This year I added and learnt 1,300 word flashcards (probably learnt a few hundred additional words outside of flashcards). 2) Learnt 300 new characters, for a total of 3500. 3) Probably read 500k to a million characters via novels. Not as much as I hoped but I still feel like my reading skills improved a fair bit, maybe from watching so many TV shows. 4) Watched loads of TV shows (watched something everyday). Diversified what I watched to include lots of new genres like 推理剧,盗墓剧,古装剧 etc. 5) Finally, the most important thing I did for my Chinese this year was spend a tonne of time calling people on HelloTalk and WeChat. I must've spent 100+ hours, not sure exactly how much. I always felt like my speaking skills lagged so far behind my other skills. Now that my speaking skills have improved significantly, it no longer feels like speaking is holding me back significantly. Still a long way to go but I'm much more confident talking to people now. Feels good man.
    8 points
  32. I thought I would write a brief update on my progress: Here I am happy with my progress. I am probably averaging 4-5 episodes a day. I never listen to the whole episode, but rather just shadow the dialogue and "expansion" sentences. I feel my tones and overall smoothness when speaking are getting much better. I pretty much stopped doing this around March/April. I realised watching TV dramas is a subtle way of procrastinating. I believe at my level I can invest my time better. So, I started TheChairmansBao. The benefit of using TCB to me is the incredible breadth of topics. If you watch a spy drama with 70 episodes, the vocabulary will be rather narrow (guns, bombs, enemy tactics, etc). With TCB you can jump from "producing art from garbage" to "why are domestic hog breeds at the verge of extinction" to "a Chinese man unicyles around the world" in an instant. I have been reading and listening to about 5 lessons per day (mostly HSK 3-5 levels). Been doing this consistently while running. Not sure how much it really helps... Starting doing lessons once a week with a tutor on Skype since May. I wish I had more time to do this 2-3x per week. Speaking skills are still really bad, but getting better. Total failure on that part. I created some 2000 or so flashcards, but did not really study them. I probably should wait until my "normal" Mandarin gets better. Recap of 2020: I started TCB in April 2020 and to my surprise I read just over 1000 articles since then (around 50% HSK 3 [very easy extensive reading], 40% HSK 4 and 10% HSK 5 [intensive reading]). I started 2 NY Times Bestsellers in Chinese (intensive reading). I am around 3 chapters in on both. Way above my abilities, but still "fun" Overall, I read about 350.000 words and listened to native audio (mostly TCB and the audio books of said NY Times bestsellers) for around 350 hours in 2020. Oral: Took a break from daily shadowing due to recurrent throat soreness and have only recently restarted. I also restarted with my teacher after a 5 months hiatus in May, did approximately 6-7 lessons, first at HSK 5-6 level, which was a bit challenging. Then my teacher felt we should work systemically through the HSK 4 standard book since I lack grammar skill even though I know the vocabulary of HSK 5+. Did the first lesson in that book and got bored out of my mind and stopped working with the teacher for now. According to Lingq, I learned 3000 new "words" this year. Thanks to COVID-19 I had quite a lot of time to invest in Chinese, but considering all the effort I put in, I am very disappointed with my progress this year. I still struggle to remember characters even though I have encountered them 30-50 times this year. I only understand about 70-80% of the TCB audio versions of texts I have read in the past and my speaking is still HSK 3 ish (at best). 😞
    8 points
  33. Dear fellow Chinese learners, I just wanted to point out an uplifting trend I have noticed in my own personal journey, which I hope may be applicable to you guys. Chinese, and learning Chinese as an activity, for me, has continued to get more and more fun. The more you know, the easier it is to keep studying, and the more joy you get out of going a bit deeper. Point being, the more I have improved over the years, the easier it has been me to think, oh I will sit down and learn this today! (As opposed to when i started, it was like homework/a chore that I had to force myself into) Anyhow, I hope you guys have found Chinese more enjoyable, the deeper you have gone into it.
    8 points
  34. Yes. The difficulty is that in all European languages I'm familiar with, we count in groups of three zeroes (thousand, million, billion etc) while in Chinese you count in groups of four zeroes (万,亿,兆等). Since this is really hard to re-calculate on the fly in your head, you run into difficulties. Some people can probably get fluent in this area, I think one could with simply lots of practice. I'm not fluent, so what I do: - If interpreting (or listening for a test or such things), write down the number without thinking and then go back and add dots (or commas if that's what your language does) every three zeroes. Or every four zeroes if you're translating into Chinese. Then read out the new number. No calculating necessary, just counting to three or four. - For numbers that you regularly need, such as the 人口 of your country, just learn them by heart so they roll off your tongue without you even needing to think about them. The Netherlands has 一千七百万 people, Taiwan has 两千三百万, China has 十三亿 etc. Or if you know you'll have to talk about certain numbers (because you give a talk about the box office revenue of your favourite movie, or the tonnage shipped into Rotterdam or something), look up the numbers beforehand and learn the Chinese by heart. Added advantage is that once you have these down pat, you get quicker at saying other numbers around them (11 million, 34 million, 1.5 billion etc). Similar issues with months and percentages: in Chinese, you start on the other end. The solution is the same also: write it down and read out the result; if you need it often (birthday), learn it by heart beforehand. With percentages, you can cheat sometimes, because many Chinese know the word percent, so if you already started on the number and forgot the 百分之 at the beginning, you can just say 六十七percent and it'll be fine.
    8 points
  35. Hahaha, you'll love Japan then. Only Chinese people will say something like that. Japanese people will expect you to have to do "it", no exceptions for being a foreigner. Striving to become Chinese is more like an option in China, but it's absolutely necessary to strive to be Japanese in Japan if you're anything more than a short term visitor. After the first day when everyone is super excited to meet you and everything, expect everyone to hate you as you do everything wrong and inconvenience everyone... until you manage to learn Japanese culture, which is honestly a little hard. The point is, if a Japanese person acted like you, they'd be hated too, so it's kind of fair (actually they'd be totally despised; there is some level of forgiveness/understanding that foreigners will do things wrong). Short term visitors have a completely different experience where everyone will (pretend to) love them no matter what they do and they will get away with everything. Some people like this experience and try to act like this for a long time. Don't lol. As for what Japanese culture is like, well it's like a polar opposite of Chinese culture in a way. Like, in China nobody gives a **** about anything they don't have to care about. In my opinion, it feels really liberating and refreshing to be in China. There are tons of things that are "okay to do" in China but would irritate even weaterners (I dunno, putting bones on the table, spitting on the street, folding up your shirt, toddlers using trees as toilets, pushing people into the metro car who are trying to get out, the list goes on). In general, in my opinion this makes Chinese culture a very open and accepting culture in general. You can do whatever you want, act however you like, and if nobody is bothered by it, it's probably okay. For example, say if a guy crossdressed as a girl in a lolita dress and went around town, in China nobody would really care, or at most, people would be amused or want to take pictures of them. In other parts of the world they may get judged and things. Even in western culture there are some sort of "societal norms and expectations" that "normal people" are expected to adhere to in order to be respected. This is practically non-existent in China. Nowadays in China, the government is using technology and surveillance to try to "encourage civilized behaviour", and for the most part it works. But the thing is, people do it only because of the surveillance. Japan, on the other hand, takes it to the other extreme. There is no "freedom" in a cultural sense, everyone is strongly expected to "do the right thing" in society which involves quite a lot of things. In a way, Japanese culture itself "encourages civilized behaviour" without the need for surveillance cameras technology, because instead everyone's eyes are the cameras. Everybody is watching everyone all the time, and nobody wants to be caught doing something "bad". This whole system results in a pretty elegant and efficient society. Many foreign visitors to Japan are surprised at how clean and nice it is, or how good the quality of service is etc. As a visitor, Japan feels like heaven because everything works properly and efficiently and nicely, but it's easy for them because they're not a part of the system. But then when you think about it, for everything to be so clean in Japan, people have to clean up everything all the time. For service to be so good, service workers have to provide good service... or else. I dunno if I'm explaining it well, but like for Japan to function as it does, it requires the collective input of everyone to be doing the things and acting in the way they are expected to in society. It's honestly a big pain and a lot of work. Not just "work" though, but the cultural expectations of how you're supposed to act in front of people. These include hierarchical relations between people, and inner-outer relations between people, and the surface and the behind, and so many things. You'll understand it all eventually. When I was in China I had a lot of Japanese friends. While it's true that many Japanese people were irritated by all the things that were "okay" to do in China that totally baffled them. There were also a lot of people who loved their newfound freedom of no longer having to be shackled by Japanese culture. Japanese culture is stressful and annoying even to actual Japanese people, but they put up with it in Japan because they have to. When foreigners come into the equation, usually everything screws up because foreigners don't have the same cultural base, so there's no guarantee they would act properly in the complicated framework system that is Japanese culture. Basically, there's no guarantee that foreigners share "Japanese common sense". This is why Japanese people are so racist basically. Let's say you're a foreigner, and you want to do something (say, rent an apartment), when a Japanese person sees that you're a foreigner, they're probably thinking "oh God, I don't know if this person knows what he's doing" (in terms of renting an apartment, there's a fear that foreigners won't take care of it as well, because foreigners don't necessarily have the same "Japanese common sense" in terms of how to properly take care of an apartment). In the past, it was easiest for Japanese people to just reject services and run away and avoid interactions with foreigners in general, but this is slowly being understood as racist (I'm sure it still happens for apartments though), and now I guess people just bite the loss and hate you secretly inside if things screw up because a foreigner did something wrong. Imagine this issue exists basically for every little thing in life. Japanese people are proud of their culture; expect Japanese people to feel they are fundamentally superior to foreigners who don't share their culture. As a foreigner living in Japan, the best thing you can do is be aware of this issue as much as you can. When people see you're a foreigner and start hating you automatically, it's up to you to prove your understanding of Japanese culture to make people feel comfortable that you won't screw things up. People who you actually know will know you know and treat you fine, but every stranger will secretly worry you are likely to be a cultural idiot/inferior subhuman the moment they see you, and you have to start to prove yourself from the ground up every single time to every single new person you meet. It sucks, but if Japanese people showed no prejudices to foreigners at all, Japanese society would completely fall apart. And that's assuming you even get Japanese culture in the first place. I'm not saying it's impossible, but for me personally, I'd say I get like 80% ish of it. I would say I'm fairly successful in assimilating as being a "bad Japanese". But I still screw up all the time, and keeps causing problems. But it extra sucks for me because I'm good enough that people totally forget I'm a foreigner (and therefore I don't get the forgiveness/understanding afforded to foreigners who screw up), but I'm still not good enough that people actually like me as a Japanese. And even though I can be a 80% correct Japanese, it takes a lot of mental effort for me to do this, and I find it tiring and unpleasant, while I'm sure that for actual Japanese people, even if it's still tiring and unpleasant for them too, they're probably more used to it.
    8 points
  36. Nah I don't think there's any nefarious plan behind it, I think the primary aim is what they claim it is — reducing the social problems associated with cram culture. Possibly reducing foreign influence in education is seen as a desirable side effect, but I don't think it's the main aim. From that perspective (and despite having previously taught at a for-profit training school myself), I actually think they have the right idea. Kids should be allowed to have a childhood, not forced into the rat race before they can tie their own shoelaces. And kids from poorer backgrounds shouldn't be forced to shoulder additional disadvantages by not having the same access to extracurricular classes as their more privileged peers. Naturally the transition will be a little bumpy and there'll be cases of overreach. The CCP isn't exactly known for using a nutcracker to crack a nut if there's a sledgehammer within arm's reach. But IMO the overall direction is a positive development.
    7 points
  37. It seems to me that one of the main goals of HSK 5 and 6 is to equip you with vocabulary, or at least familiarise you with a lot of words, so just push through. Remember that important vocabulary will be repeated in later chapters too. Be careful of the trap of thinking that you have to master everything chapter 1 before moving on to chapter 2. I can't remember HSK 5 that clearly but I'm pretty sure that besides the "required" vocab, the exams includes a lot of "guess from context or just ignore" words, as does HSK 6. In your exercise book you can just look these up these unglossed words when you need to, then move on. If they are repeated in later chapters you can consider "learning" them, unless you've already learnt them just by seeing them in multiple contexts. I'm beyond HSK 6 level and am constantly staggered by the sheer number of words you need to learn to understand a language at a reasonable level (I think this might be even more so with Chinese). I would suggest adjusting your expectations to "learners can begin to read Chinese newspapers and magazines with assistance, watch Chinese films with difficulty, scrambling to recognise a few words in the subtitles to help them hold on to the plot, spending the first twenty five minutes wondering what the hell 心诚 means, only to realise near the end that it's part of the name of one of the characters." Jokes aside, in my opinion, to even begin to read newspapers, or comfortably consume any native content really, you need to be able to do HSK 5 fairly easily, and be well on your way to being familiar with the HSK 6 vocab, along with having the reading skills needed to do the exam to any acceptable level. Not to throw cold water on things (is that even an English idiom?), but native content is definitely harder than any language learner hopes. That's not to say you shouldn't be going for it. Just don't be fooled by the promises of HSK 5, even though I think it's a pretty good milestone in Chinese. As a side note, if you do want to consume native content, TV shows are the place to start. You get time to get used to the actors ways of speaking and the general vocab being used in the show. I think movies are mostly a waste of time for a language learner, and newspapers can be left until much later unless you are particularly interested in that. 家有儿女 is a great way to start. I watched 100 episodes before HSK 5 and don't regret it.
    7 points
  38. Hi! I just want to share with you guys a list I'm using for my personal study. I downloaded subtitles from 61 dramas available on Netflix that seemed watchable (I omitted those in the horror, crime and fantasy genres) and used SegmentAnt + AntConc to find the most common words across different dramas. In this document you'll find all words that appear in at least 6 different dramas. That is, those that appear in at least 10% of the dramas in my database. Here's how I'm using this to study: -I deleted all of my existing Pleco's flashcards, including the default HSK cards -I then imported this list to Pleco as flashcards -While I'm watching a show, I follow along the script in Pleco document reader. You can download the subtitles as text using LLN or GlotDojo and then save as TXT so you can open them in Pleco reader. -When I stumble upon a word that is on my list, it will show a dotted square around the "add card" button. This way I know I've found a word I want to learn. -I write down the word, by hand, in my vocabulary notebook. -I then add the word to LLN's word list so I can later download Anki flashcards. -After watching, I review the words in my Notebook. -Later that day or the same day, I review the Anki flashcards. Note: Some of the words in this list are not in Pleco's free dictionaries. If Pleco does not find a word in a dictionary, it will obviously not be identified as a word in your flashcard database when you use Pleco reader. So the more dictionaries you have, the better this works. Another note: The list is ordered by Contextual Diversity, not by Frequency. Here you can find a scientific paper that will explain why Contextual Diversity is a better predictor than Frequency of whether a native speaker knows a word or not: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16984300/ I'm actually creating my own Spanish course for complete beginners, and the word list I'm using is also based on Contextual Diversity across different Spanish language TV shows. You can find the course I'm creating on my YouTube channel, Spanish Input. Chinese Netflix 10 percent words.ods
    7 points
  39. On my listening marathon, I just finished all lessons of TCB HSK 2 (~975). Since April 4th (I estimate) I listened actively for around 100 hours. Each lesson is around 1:30 min and I listened to almost every lesson at least 2-5 times. I did very little reading and no speaking. So, with the HSK 1 lessons I listened to in March, this amounts to approximately 200 hours of TCB listening since early March and around 2000 lessons total. There were several things I noticed: I become more "certain" of tones. So, there is less wondering if e.g. 圣诞 is 2 fourth tones or something else. Even though I did zero speaking during this month (apart from 2x 10 minutes or so of shadowing, or so), I come up with Chinese expressions in my head spontaneously. For instance I see a passion fruit in the super market and in my mind I go 百香果 (I did zero Anki or other flashcarding during this time) I do less translation in my head as I "just" understand things more. Even for words I knew, I learnt lots of new combinations. For instance, I knew the words "也" and "叫", but I did not know you could use them together as in 也叫 (a.k.a. (also known as), etc. Even though I (should) know most of the HSK 1-5 words, the genius of TCB is that they do not stick rigidly to the levels. As you can see below all HSK 2 lessons combined have approximately 4000 unique words. Since they are spread out over approximately 1000 lessons, it does not feel like "studying" at all. In case anyone is interested, here are the CTA stats ("known/unknown" is relative to HSK 2010-2021 vocabulary) TCB HSK 2: Total 76.603 Known 56.591 Percent Known 73,88% Unknown 20.012 Percent Unknown 26,12% Unique 3.974 Known 1.143 Percent Known 28,76% Unknown 2.831 Percent Unknown 71,24% Characters: Total 109.911 Unique 1.776 Here are the combined stats from all HSK 1+2 lessons (see post above) ("known/unknown" is relative to HSK 2010-2021 vocabulary): Total 120.687 Known 89.483 Percent Known 74,14% Unknown 31.204 Percent Unknown 25,86% Unique 4.767 Known 1.254 Percent Known 26,31% Unknown 3.513 Percent Unknown 73,69% Characters: Total 171.097 Unique 1.990 Starting TCB HSK 3 listening marathon tomorrow.
    7 points
  40. The former domain hanban.org is now being redirected to http://www.chinese.cn/page/#/pcpage/mainpage in line with the general re-branding that's going on. Hanban is now "Center for Language Education and Cooperation", and who knows what's happening to Confucius Institutes after the disastrous last couple of years in terms of PR. I emailed all the CI centres in the UK (because I happened to have their email addresses) to ask them about what's happening, and here is the first response, from Lancaster.
    7 points
  41. Not Chinese but Japanese. And no harm done. But nevertheless... It was many years ago. I was a university student and an old Japanese professor visited our department. Since I was the only one who could speak a bit japanese I was asked to help him connect his computer to the university network. It was a very specific pre windows japanese laptop, and after hours of trying and it getting late and us being the last two remaining people in the building I suggested to give it a break and try again tomorow. The nice elderly gentleman agreed and with really heartbreakingly optimistic smile addded in Japanese "And for sure: tomorrow we will have Seikō". And that was the point where I, well, panicked a little bit, since I had learned all important words and I knew for sure seikō 性交 means "sex". Putting on a poker face, some polite but hasty sayonaras and leaving the building was a matter of seconds. Later at home after consulting the dictionary I found, there's a homonym seikō 成功 which means "success". And that's what we had the next day.
    7 points
  42. That explanation for 王 is correct. It was an axe blade, a symbol of power. The explanation for 主 (a candle) is an old one, which comes from the Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字. Unfortunately it's not correct. 主 was originally a depiction of a memorial tablet used for sacrifices to the dead. That meaning (memorial tablet for sacrifices) was extended to mean "god of a locale", then further extended to "leader", "ruler", then "prominent", etc. The two characters are entirely unrelated, despite their surface-level resemblance in the modern script. I try not to plug our stuff too hard here, but you can look up character etymologies like this in our dictionary for Pleco.
    7 points
  43. Well it's been a very long time since I've posted an update, so here goes. Just finished up the first semester of 4th year, one more to go which starts at the beginning of March. Should be graduating in July. We are still in Cambodia, for obvious reasons. I feel like my Chinese has gone downhill, simply because online classes just aren't the same as actually being there, and the environment here is nothing like as helpful for learning as being in China. Some classes were a complete waste of time. Learning about world literature in Chinese is interesting to a degree, but something I will probably never do again, and so I feel my time could have been used much more productively. With 30+ students in a class, the time to talk was minimal, and the exams were somewhat of a joke. It's always nice to get good grades, but far better when you feel like you actually had to work hard to get them, and the exams were a challenge. Currently writing my thesis on 《三体:地球往事》,which has been incredibly interesting and enjoyable. We have until June to finish the whole thing, and it's supposed to be around 10,000 characters (which really isn't many for a 'thesis'). I've written 13,500 so far and just sent it off to my tutor a couple of days ago. He said there are no major issues, just a couple of sections are a bit too short (comparatively), so I will go back and edit those. Feels pretty good to have the bulk of it done a few months early, and will certainly make the final semester far easier. I feel a lot more confident with my Chinese now, even though it has fallen behind somewhat, and when I think back to starting first year, the improvement has been vast. Certain tones are still a big struggle for me, especially when speaking fast. The 4th tone + 1st tone combination really trips me up! It's going to be great to graduate, but really for me the point was never the degree, rather I want to be able to converse fluently in Chinese, and continue to build on that in the future. I will give a full report when I graduate, but if I had to go back I would still choose to do the degree, as the benefits have outweighed the struggles and frustrations. At this point I highly doubt we will be getting back before graduation, and with having to redo visas for the whole family, quarantine, pay for flights, find a place to live again, I am actually quite relieved about that. Would love to go back to China, but not just for a few weeks before graduation. As I say, a more in depth review will come in a few months when I am finished, but just wanted people to know I am still here and still trying my best to study hard!
    7 points
  44. Hello everybody, I have been reading in this forum for some months, and I think this thread is a good occasion for a first posting. I have studied Japanese about 30 years ago (and forgotten most of it), and when Corona came I was searching for some online MOOC to brush it up. But since I could not find good Japanese MOOCS but lots of Chinese ones I decided to start something new. So far I have finished "Chinese for Beginners" at coursera.org which was Pinyin-only; then "Chinese for HSK1", and now I am in week 4 of "Chinese for HSK2". My plans for 2021: Practise with Anki 30 minutes every day. Finish the last three weeks of "Chinese for HSK2" until March (yes, I need more than one real-life-week to complete a week of the course). After that I plan to reward myself with a good Chinese grammar book and recap all the grammar points I have met so far. And then I am not sure if I should go on with Coursera's "Chinese for HSK3" or buy some chinese readers. My long-term-goal is to pass the HSK3 certification by the end of 2021 or in 2022 (skipping HSK1 and HSK2 certs). But first things first. Half an hour of Anki every day. This forum is really great and I got lots of information and motivation already.
    7 points
  45. My project for the year will be learning 繁体字 so for my year goals: study 简化总表 (list of character simplifications) add 繁体字 to all Anki cards, existing and new read 1-2 textbooks in 繁体字 start consuming some news written in 繁体字 Goals for every month: read 1/2 book write one article by hand and correct it together with a teacher Every week: watch some TV show episode(s) or/and some movie(s) listen to at least 1,5 hours of podcast (故事FM while cooking is a good combo for me) 1-2 Italki classes, but less free talking than this year, more concentrated study one session of 50/50 German/Chinese with my girlfriend, with focus on more complex topics than the everyday 家常 Every day: Anki review + at least 5 new words write entry in dream journal Basically keep up the pace of 2020, with more focus on writing and learning 繁体字. I'm wrapping up my studies in the beginning of the year and then gotta find a job, so maybe my planning for Chinese is a bit much, we'll see 😀
    7 points
  46. Since many people read this section, I'll note. These vaccines were >90% effective in preventing severe disease, not preventing the virus. While it might be hard to conceive how a vaccine protects you from disease, but doesn't stop you from transmitting it; this is how the injected inactivated polio vaccine works. It protects you from getting sick, but you can still be infected by and transmit the virus. The oral live polio vaccine stops transmission, but it also presents a very low risk of causing polio, so most countries have moved to the inactivated ones. However, countries like Israel now use both, first the inactivated to protect people and then the live one to stop transmission. As to whether Pfizer's, Moderna's, or AstraZeneca's vaccines stop transmission, time will tell. Pfizer's & Moderna's are the 1st ever clinically approved mRNA vaccines.... As others have noted, we don't know yet.... Both the Pfizer & Moderna FDA discussions are available to watch via youtube and other platforms. They are full day meetings. It is quite impressive the lengths FDA goes to get expert and public input on safety & efficacy. Both meetings also had significant discussions on ethics. Neither meeting discusses disease transmission by those vaccinated because this wasn't studied as part of the safety & efficacy trials. Another unknown is whether getting a vaccine will cause you to test positive for Covid (because you'll have the antibodies....)
    7 points
  47. Beijing Helicopter Chases Part II: The Chinese Dragon Family.
    7 points
  48. I've been there. I was in Hong Kong, though. I was awarded a scholarship targeted at international students to study in a Chinese department from 2010-2012, after two years of Chinese study at the college level. As a naive 23 year old, even though it was in Hong Kong I thought it would be like 2 years of Chinese bootcamp where I would have an abundance of Chinese classes as well as language and culture classes. When I got there, I found something much different, and that something was "not much at all". HK grad students are like UK grad students - coursework takes a back seat to doing a thesis. Upon recognizing that I had studied Integrated Chinese up through Book 3, with very little practical speaking or listening experience outside of that. So, I had a foundational level of Chinese, but my Chinese was far from good. Graciously, the Chinese department worked with me so that I could use English to do my thesis and gave me other TA and translation/editing duties for international conferences, etc., instead of what normal grad students did (such as Teaching Assistants). Still, I wanted more, and felt like I wasn't getting wait I... uh... didn't have to pay for... but thought I would get. I audited several classes which were taught in Mandarin, but sat through them mostly clueless and hoping that the teacher would never call on me. Meanwhile I had a tutor, and several language partners. My Chinese improved a lot, but not really because of the class/coursework, and this was partly because the department seemed more interested in my English abilities. Even though they had a scholarship to attract international students, there didn't seem to be much of a plan around what to do with us when we arrived. I would say my Chinese improved like 10% due to my coursework and classes, and 90% due to friends I made outside class. In the end, doing a Master's in Chinese in Hong Kong didn't have much value in and off itself - I prepared myself, I suppose, for doing academic research at a higher level, if I wanted to. I had a great life experience, didn't have to pay much for it, got to do something like language immersion for a few years, and came out with a degree that is not really practical for me. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but if I could think about it a bit longer, maybe I'd have found a way to do it that would have dovetailed more easily into a professional that actually exists.
    7 points
  49. Lately, I've been binge-watching the second season of Big Band (乐队的夏天). This is a battle of the bands reality show featuring a mix of established and up-and-coming rock bands. In my expert opinion (as an avid watcher of Chinese music reality shows), this is the best-in-class of this sub-genre of reality TV. If you are into music and Chinese then you should just go check it out now. You can either watch it in the iQiyi app or through the English-language site https://iq.com (link to episode one). The series isn't available on YouTube. Recent evolution of music reality television Chinese music competition shows have been a thing for as long as I've been alive, but the current era of music reality television probably started with the Voice of China. VoC was a massive success from the very beginning, and I believe it played an important part in raising awareness of music genres other than mass-produced pop and propaganda songs. Producers affiliated with VoC also started shows that emphasized original music rather than simply singing covers of popular pop songs. This has now come full circle, as the latest season of VoC now features many acts who perform their own music rather than sing covers (in past seasons, original music was only allowed in later rounds). Within the last couple of years, the battle of the bands sub-genre has exploded. I think the first really successful shows of this type were probably iQiyi's Big Band and Youku's Let's Band (一起乐队吧), both of which premiered in the summer of 2019. Even though less than a year has passed, Let's Band has inspired at least two clones (我们的乐队 and 明日之子乐团季). In the Let's Band formula, competitors have a much greater amount of creative control than in previous music reality shows: besides creating music and singing, they also have to recruit band members and play their own instruments. Why Big Band is different Big Band is the first hyper-successful battle of bands show and the first to get a second season. However, its format hasn't yet been cloned and there is one striking difference from most mainland reality shows: the first season of Big Band is the least patriotic mass-market mainland reality show I have seen in recent years (maybe ever?). You can pretty much expect any mainland reality show nowadays to throw some propaganda at you, so the dearth of it in Big Band is frankly jarring. For example, in other shows, someone's going to stand up and sing a song about the Chinese Dream (VoC was notorious for this, and you could usually count on the big patriotic number being the worst song of the season). I think this, in itself, is a kind of political statement in this day and age, especially when so many celebrities in the Chinese entertainment industry go to great lengths to praise and support the CCP, even if they aren't PROC nationals. Another big difference is that the rosters of the bands in Big Band are fixed from the very beginning. There's no recruiting aspect, each band has an established identity and its own body of work. As such, they perform more original music on the show, although obviously most of it is prepared well before they go on the show. There are at least two phases where the competitors need to create new covers for existing songs, but they're allowed so much flexibility that they can (and sometimes do) essentially rewrite the song they cover. The last difference of Big Band from its brethren is that the competition aspect (which includes rehearsal segments, performing in front of a live audience, commentary, and scoring) takes up only half of its running time. The other two aspects are music education segments and mini-documentaries. The music education segments are short animated pieces that cover a particular musical instrument, a common chord, a music genre, etc. They are very well-produced and showing them to a classroom of children would be totally justified as they truly are informative. Mini-documentaries cover the history of a particular band, and, as some of these bands have been around for 20+ years, you also get snapshots of the history of Chinese rock'n'roll. They usually show archival footage, and in voice over band members will wax nostalgic about their lives back then and also mention other old bands that haven't been on the show. Sometimes the film crew will show bands visiting the places where they started out and talking to people they knew back then. Conclusion As you can probably tell, I think this show is awesome. To be honest, I'm not that into much of the music, but the show is about so much more that (see random list of highlights below). It's sort of a love letter to music, music culture, and music history. If you haven't caught on yet, the vast majority of the show consists of talking--I bet actual music performance accounts for like one-tenth of the stupendously long running times (this is a web show, so there is no set running time, and some episodes go over the 2-hour mark). There are many other Chinese shows that go deep into some aspect of Chinese culture or are very talk-centric, but even if they're well-made, I don't think they're very accessible to foreign audiences. On the other hand, I think someone with strong listening ability but relatively little knowledge of Chinese culture could actually appreciate Big Band. There are also official English subtitles, although I can't attest to their quality since I always turn them off. Random highlights of the show Host Ma Dong's willingness to be the butt of many, many jokes, culminating in the song 马东是个大坏蛋 being created and performed on the show. Ma Dong is an expert interviewer, as demonstrated by the mini-interviews that he conducts after each performance. The celebrity panel of Big Band is pretty great. It consists mostly of older celebrities who participated in or have first-hand knowledge of pre-2000s Chinese rock. Their commentary and stories lend a lot of flavor to the show. The one-joke cartoon interludes are amazing. You can often get the joke even if you can't read fast enough to understand all the text. Many of the songs are sung in colorfully broken English. If you can read fast enough, the Chinese translations are sometimes interesting. There's a weird female representation problem going on in mainland reality TV, especially in competition shows. I wouldn't say that there are a ton of women in this show, but at least there are some. Some of my favorite moments from the show are when band members fight each other during rehearsals. One of the highlights for me of season 2 was when the triplet sisters of 福禄寿 were fighting while rehearsing for their performance of 少年 (episode 7, part 2 at 51:25). There's a spin-off talk show that runs concurrently with Big Band called 乐队我做东, where host Ma Dong talks with bands that appear on the show while eating hot pot. Frankly, it looks great but it seems like you need a premium subscription on iQiyi to watch it.
    7 points
  50. In hospital? All the best @Saxondale! Well I'm getting all the travel anecdotes without actually going anywhere... I arrived in Shanghai on Monday, but for the first 6 days of QT my suitcase was sat in Heathrow airport, waiting for the next flight out of London. It had all my comforts, snacks, medication and most importantly COFFEE in it. It finally arrived on the first Friday. Yesterday's drama was "how to clean up a mercury spillage". They gave us all mercury thermometers to report our temperatures twice a day, and I dropped mine. It broke and the bulb totally vanished. When I asked the medical team for help they said "you clean it up". A couple of hours of learning new life skills there, hunting for tiny silver balls and chasing them around the floor. (Since my case arrived I now have my digital thermometer with me.) It's still pretty warm here in Shanghai at present: 24 degrees in the shade, but more if your room — like mine — is south facing with large windows. I spent a couple of hours on the first day trying to work out why the air-con wasn't helping. Eventually I asked the front desk via WeChat and it turns out it's all centrally controlled, and they already switched it to "heating" mode. Because, you know — it's October (or it was). I'm sitting here now with the window open to its maximum of a few inches, and the door to my room wide open. As soon as someone in PPE comes past they will close it again, but I will suffocate otherwise. (And I'm actually trying to work in here, I've got loads to do...) On the plus side: I wrote a detailed note for the front desk in Chinese before I came out, explaining all my dietary requirements and they have managed to stick to them with all meals. They even stopped bringing me congee and baozi for breakfast when I asked, and now I'm a new convert to starting the day with egg fried rice and pickles! The variation in food is good. Some of my colleagues in other hotels had been getting exactly the same every day, and a lot of it not very inspiring. Internet connection is pretty fast (60Mbps up- and down-stream). I've been continuing with my Chinese lessons on Skype as normal. Although the room is pretty dusty and not particularly clean, it's not too small and I can just about squeeze in a "walk" for exercise, around the bed, up to the door and back... and repeat.
    7 points
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